Leinster v Edinburgh: Richard Cockerill makes two enforced changes

Van der Merwe gets green light but Carmichael and McKenzie are out and Scott remains sidelined

Edinburgh Rugby
Mesu Kunavula, who came off the bench for Edinburgh last week, starts against Leinster tomorrow. Image: Fotosport.

LEWIS Carmichael and Fraser McKenzie have been ruled out of the Edinburgh team to play Leinster tomorrow after being injured last week, while Matt Scott also misses out. There is some good news, however, as Duhan van der Merwe, who was immense in the win over Cardiff, has been passed fit to play after being an injury doubt earlier in the week. 

Scott had to withdraw from the team shortly before the Cardiff match because of a foot injury, Carmichael injured an ankle during that match and McKenzie took a head knock. George Taylor continues at centre instead of Scott, while the two changes to the starting line-up see Mesu Kunavula come into the back row for his first start in place of Carmichael and Jamie Hodgson take McKenzie’s place at lock. Hodgson goes straight into the starting line-up after not being invoved last week, and Sam Thomson comes on to the bench for what will be his competitive debut.

“It’s another big challenge for us,” head coach Richard Cockerill said. “Leinster have got some real experience in key areas and in the spine of that team. If you let them get on the front foot and control the tempo of the game they’re going to cause problems.

“Whenever you go to Dublin, you’re always going to face a huge test. They have a huge amount of experience across that team and they can win games with 15 guys missing at the Rugby World Cup.

“We know that they’ll be dangerous and we know that everyone will expect them to win, but people probably thought that last week when we travelled to Cardiff. We’ll go to Leinster with optimism and we’ll go there to win.”

After a fairly straightforward home win over Zebre in round one, the team had to dig deeper against Cardiff, and withstood a second-half onslaught by the Blues defence before going on to win 19-11. We said in the review earlier this week that it definitely wasn’t our best performance but we managed to get the win, and maybe in previous seasons Edinburgh might have lost that game,” lock Murray Douglas said. “We managed to win it there. 

“We’ll be trying to put together a solid performance for 80 minutes this week. Everyone’s really upbeat and positive and it’s a bit of confidence after the Cardiff win as well. It’s the reigning champs in their own backyard, so it’s going to be a big battle. But as a player coming in, these big games are the ones that you want to be a part of, so it’s a great challenge for us as a team and we’re really going over there quite excited and looking forward to the challenge.”

Leinster have also won their two opening games, and are top of Conference A along with the Cheetahs. Edinburgh lie second in Conference B on nine points, a point behind Munster.

Leinster (v Edinburgh at the RDS, Friday, 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports): H Keenan; D Kearney, R O’Loughlin, J Tomane, J Lowe; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park;  P Dooley, R Kelleher, M Bent, D Toner, S Fardy, M Deegan, S Penny, C Doris. Subs: J Tracy, M Milne, V Abdaladze, R Molony, J Murphy, R Osborne, H Byrne, J O’Brien.

Edinburgh:  D Hoyland; J Farndale, M Bennett, G Taylor, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Groom; P Schoeman, M Willemse, P Ceccarelli, J Hodgson, M Douglas, M Kunavula, L Crosbie, N Haining. Subs: C Fenton, J Bhatti, M McCallum, S Thomson, A Miller, C Shiel, S Hickey, J Johnstone.

Referee: B Whitehouse (Wales).



About Stuart Bathgate 1393 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.